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Jumping Spiders Inspire Scientists to Develop 'Compact and Efficient' Depth Sensor

Little did we know that spiders have an impressive depth perception despite having a tiny brain.

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Updated:November 4, 2019, 4:22 PM IST
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Jumping Spiders Inspire Scientists to Develop 'Compact and Efficient' Depth Sensor
Representative image.

There is not a single creature in the universe, which can’t offer us anything. Even the tiniest creatures like ants teach and inspire us to work hard, without a break, irrespective of failures. If something as tiny as an ant can be an example, why can’t a spider? Even the jumping spiders can provide inspiration to scientists who constantly look for new development and research.

Little did we know that spiders have an impressive depth perception despite having a tiny brain. These help the little creatures to detect unsuspecting targets from several body lengths away. However, researchers from Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have finally put this knowledge to use.

The researchers have come up with a compact and efficient depth sensor. These sensor can be easily be used on wearable devices or AR headsets. Talking about the function, the device measures depth using a multi-functional, and flat metalens with an ultra-efficient algorithm.

Zhujun Shi, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Physics, said, “Evolution has produced a wide variety of optical configurations and vision systems that are tailored to different purposes. Optical design and nanotechnology are finally allowing us to explore artificial depth sensors and other vision systems that are similarly diverse and effective.”

Zhujun Shi is also the co-first author of the paper, and added, “Instead of using layered retina to capture multiple simultaneous images, as jumping spiders do, the metalens splits the light and forms two differently-defocused images side-by-side on a photosensor.”

The research was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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